The Customer Onboarding Handoff: Don’t Drop the Baton


If you’re onboarding a new customer, that can only mean one thing. You did it. You made it. You beat out all of your competitors. They chose you, and now you know, they like you. They really like you! But now it’s show time for your product and Customer Success team, and if you don’t keep it together, you could just as easily lose that customer.

Before you go any further, take a moment to reflect on your current customer onboarding process with two things in mind — the two biggest reasons people often mess up this stage in the customer success (CS) lifecycle. They are (1) onboarding a new customer is complicated and (2) focusing on the wrong things is easy.

Did anything jump out at you? Are there elements in your company’s onboarding process that are glossed over or murky? Are there neglected components within the customer experience? If so, you are not alone. Don’t feel bad because you can course correct. Besides, if every business had it down to a science, I wouldn’t be writing this post.

However, there is hope.

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BUT THERE IS NO CS EASY BUTTON

Instead of simply flipping the onboarding switch and leaving your new customer to dangle in the wind to inevitably become just another customer churn stat, invest in purposeful customer onboarding. This approach integrates desired customer outcomes and deep insights about what customers expect from you. It takes a comprehensive plan to do it, but it results in productive interactions and empowers customers to use your product to its maximum potential.

Your sales team dazzled and wowed your new customer enough to get them to take the plunge with your company, it’s on you and your team to keep the momentum going. To do that, start with the following three fundamental questions…

Question 1: Why did the client purchase the software and what was the process?

It is critical to learn from sales what pain points and/or business outcomes drove the company to work with you, so jump in with at least one thorough conversation. Focus on the key areas that are most important to the customer from the start. Figure out if the purchaser and end user are the same. If not, you may need to re-sell a new stakeholder (or a team of them) on the value of your product.

Question 2: How complex is the implementation?

Setting expectations is critical in this phase — for your customer and your internal team. Adequately allocate time and resources to the customer and their needs. Align everyone on a timeline, stay organized and keep your customer well informed.

Question 3: What are your critical points during implementation?

Only focusing on your own targets and metrics while working with customers is an easy misstep. They’re important, of course, but your customer’s little wins along the way are significant, too. Be sure to mark the milestones that boost customer excitement and interest.

YOU HAVE ONE (BIG) JOB TO DO

All of those questions boil down to one big job for you and your CS team — make your product as valuable to your customer as possible. It’s your job to set customer expectations, drive them toward success, and ensure they get value from your product as early and frequently as possible.

The following list has just a few ways to ensure your team gets it right from square one. Check out the full list in our white paper, Onboarding your Customers with Purpose, Momentum, and Precision.

  1. Get the Handoff Right: Don’t make your customers repeat themselves or create frustration when your understanding doesn’t sync with what they think they bought. Your salesperson should help bridge the gap.
  2. Make a Plan: Know the customer’s timeline, milestones and time to value.
  3. Manage Expectations: Ensure your client has realistic expectations about their timeline and responsibility to make it happen. Respect their time and be honest from the get-go.

Customer success onboarding doesn’t have to be a rabbit hole of question marks and unmet expectations. While there isn’t a perfect science to the awkwardness that is customer handoffs and onboarding, there can be a clear plan to avoid anyone dropping the figurative baton. The biggest part of finding success is to embrace being an advocate for your new customer. Understand their needs and expectations, celebrate their milestones, and empower them to maximize the full potential of your product for their business goals.

Download our white paper, Onboarding your Customers with Purpose, Momentum, and Precision, to learn more about the implications discussed in this blog post.

Share with us – How do you approach customer onboarding?
Learn more – Onboarding new customers can be hard, and resources are often wasted focusing on the wrong indicators. This how-to guide offers some tips to help you get your plan in gear, even before your customer becomes a customer.

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